November 9, 2000

Alistair Campbell's Zimbabwe Diary

Zimbabwe's leading batsman writes exclusively for CricInfo.

We have finally arrived in India, albeit a little jaded after two days of flying. I didn't believe that you could get that many people into an aeroplane, it must have been the fullest flight since civil aviation took shape, coupled with babies crying all night. To say I'm glad it's over is an understatement.

However, just as I heaved a sigh of relief to be off the plane, we found that most of our baggage hadn't arrived. After filling out the relevant forms we reached our hotel at 3.30 and got up to catch our connecting flight at 8.30. Still baggageless, we had to do something to get rid of our jetlag and stiffness, so we congregated at the pool in our underpants to stretch and swim - what a sight it must have been.

The baggage eventually arrived this morning - most of it anyway, and we had our first practice session this afternoon. I haven't been to India for a while and the practice evoked all the fond memories of an Indian tour. The passion and fanaticism for the game is unparalleled anywhere in the world. If you play international cricket in India you are a superstar and treated as such. Everybody from hotel staff to ground authorities falls over backwards to make sure that every whim is catered for. There were probably over 2,000 people just watching our practice - more than we get at a Test Match back home.

It's going to be a very tough tour, as conditions both out in the middle and off the field are very different to say the least. With so many people wanting something to do with you, chaos does sometimes prevail. However it is going to be a wonderful experience not only for us "seasoned pros" but for the youngsters as well.

One memory that does stick with me is that with such large crowds, upwards of 40,000, at each game, when an Indian batsman hits a four or bowler gets a wicket the noise is deafening. But when they lose a wicket you could hear a pin drop. Hopefully we will get to hear lots of pins drop.

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